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Locals lose battle against Tuam casino plans

A former bookshop in Tuam is to be transformed into a gaming and amusement arcade – despite strenuous opposition from local residents and business interests.

Galway County Council have granted planning permission for the change of use of the ground floor of the former bookshop on Vicar Street into an arcade which locals claim will generate anti-social behaviour.

Planning permission has been granted to Coalquay Leisure Limited, a Cork-based company owned by the Murphy family, who have casinos in Mayo, Donegal, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Wexford, Carlow and Waterford. It is subject to ten conditions being complied with. It will operate between the hours of 9am and 12 midnight.

It is a condition of planning that the building where the gaming arcade will be located be insulated to prevent the transmission if noise from those using the facility. This is to prevent any annoyance caused locally.

Given the level of opposition from residents in the local Circular Road area and from Vicar Street itself, it is likely that this will be the subject of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

An objection, signed by almost 30 individuals including Galway East TD Sean Canney, stated that a gaming and amusement arcade had ‘no natural affiliation to our community’ and would offer nothing by way of economic or social growth to the town.

It was stated that the arcade would be located close to the new €13 million HSE development at the old Grove Hospital – mental health and addiction services will be provided at this new facility.

“We consider that the proposed development is not compatible with the policies and objectives (of the Local Area Plan) and will conflict with permitted uses.

“It will not conform to proper planning and sustainable development of the area. We are steadfastly against this development which is a major cause for concern to both our local residents and businesspeople,” it was stated in the submission.

A local businessman on Vicar Street said that there were a considerable number of residential houses and apartments in the immediate area and this development would impact on their amenity and privacy.

“There is a small footpath outside the premises and a no smoking area so there will be a lot of anti-social behaviour in the area,” this person said and added that it will stop customers going into some of the small family-owned businesses.

A resident on Circular Road in Tuam, whose house and back garden abuts the proposed arcade, said that the submitted plans show that more than 50 machines will be provided along with two poker and card tables at ground floor level.

She described the proposed development as ‘totally inappropriate’ and would lead to loitering and potential addiction problems. It was also stated that it would be located within seven minutes of nine schools in the town.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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